Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brewers Buy Hops From Backyard Gardeners

Photo courtesy: Zach Beauvais/CC BY-SA 2.0

I remember driving with my parents through the extremely fertile Fraser Valley routinely as a child. We would pass field after field of hops grown almost exclusively for the brewing industry. Hops are not grown as prevalently now as they were several decades ago putting the brewing industry in the position of having to buy their hops where they find them. Obviously, they would like to source their hops close to home if possible and a new program was born.

An innovative new community program has been developed in Britain in which London breweries will buy up hops grown by their neighbors in back gardens, allotments and community farms around the city:

The idea is a simple one: rather than breweries in London buying their hops from wherever they can source them (sometimes as far afield as New Zealand), people across London grow hops in their back gardens, on their patios and balconies, allotments and community gardens, which are then used by local brewers. As they put it, “we want to grow hops across a network of individual and community gardens, get local breweries to make beer out of them and drink the result. Simple!”
Be sure to also check out the City Farmers post on Brixton Beer that inspired Rob's explorations. The idea of businesses building alternative supply chains, effectively crowd sourcing what are often considered commodity ingredients that would otherwise come from around the world, is as intriguing as it is revolutionary.

There are several other benefits that are part of this package:
- could be a small source of income for the growers.
- develops a sense of community. After all, the beer's local.
- encourages men to garden. There's nothing sissy about hop growing.
- encourages gardeners to expand their operations. Nothing is more grounding than gardening.

Not to mention building up a proprietary supply chain close to home, these breweries are also building up a community of soon-to-be customers too. I mean, who wouldn't want to drink more beer if they knew that it was, in part, a product of their labors?

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